Have you ever sprained your ankle and continued to walk as long as you favor the injury? All of us have a natural response to favor the weaker limb, or to let the stronger muscles or organs take over to overcompensate. We know this is a natural reaction because it might not even be something as severe as a sprained ankle we do this for: we do this when we sit for a long time on one leg and cut off circulation, because when we stand, we favor the leg that has “fallen asleep” by depending more on the stronger leg. No one had to tell you to do this, and no one has to tell infants to do this, so you know if you’re observing this in a child, he or she is doing it out of natural programming, not out of training. We naturally favor a muscle group or limb that is not feeling great, so when you see a child or infant favoring one side of the body, it’s safe to assume that something isn’t right. So what does this favoring indicate?
Many people think that cerebral palsy is a muscular disorder, when in fact it is a neurological brain injury that manifests by sending abnormal signals to the muscle groups. To that end, when you see a child or an infant favoring one side of the body, it could be because that child’s brain is telling him or her that it’s in pain (when it’s not), it could be because the child can’t control that muscle group, or it could be because the brain is telling the child that he or she has no feeling in that area.
Cerebral palsy is a form of brain damage that doctors still don’t completely understand. There are plenty of mysteries surrounding the way that children’s’ brains react to cerebral palsy in relation to muscle groups, though doctors are fairly certain that if a child is favoring one side of the body, there is some kind of muscular injury –or at least a neurological disorder that tells the body it has a muscular injury.
If a child has cerebral palsy and favors one side of the body, it’s because he or she is suffering from a neurological disorder, but if a child has Erb’s palsy and favors one side of the body, it’s because he or she is suffering from a muscular injury. Erb’s palsy is a kind of injury that describes damage to the Brachial Plexus nerves, a network of nerves connecting the shoulder, collarbone, and neck together.
Sometimes Erb’s palsy is prevalent in children that have an above-average birth weight, and these children didn’t have enough room in the birth canal during delivery. Sometimes the shoulder is snagged on the mother’s pubic bone causing this injury, and sometimes it’s because the position of delivery was such that it put undue pressure on that network of nerves. These nerves could break, sever, move, or simply just be damaged from the birthing process, causing the arm to react abnormally. When a child is favoring one side of the body, this could indicate more severe damage to those nerves, as it’s not merely the arm the child is favoring.